Women of Promise Honorees
Women of Promise are alumnae, age 35 and under, who have distinguished themselves in their professions and/or communities. They are women who demonstrate exceptional promise in terms of their ability to ascend to positions of greater responsibility and impact, and who exemplify Girl Scout values.
Maren Amdal, CAE
Executive Director; CFA Society of Minnesota
For more than a decade, Maren Amdal has helped people and organizations pair plans with vision, build strategic initiatives and operational direction, and strike a balance between art and administration. Working with, for and leading nonprofits since 1997, she loves what happens when a small group of thoughtful, committed people sets out to improve a community, unite under a common cause and change the world. Working within the confines of limited budgets, small staff and passionate volunteers makes Amdal’s job exciting. She likes watching the process unfold as new ideas are adopted and long-standing programs are enhanced.
In addition to her professional role as executive director of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analysts) Society of Minnesota, Amdal is an independent strategic planning consultant and the artistic director of Calliope Women’s Chorus, celebrating its 35th year promoting social justice issues through song. Amdal has been recognized as a “40 Under 40” honoree by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and recently earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation, the highest level of professional achievement in the association management industry.
Event planning takes confidence, the ability to communicate effectively and teamwork, giving Maren Amdal the opportunity to employ skills she learned as a Girl Scout in Chimacum, WA, on a daily basis. Amdal recently reflected on a medical emergency that occurred during a large gala event which required quick thinking, adaptability and poise on the part of her team to ensure that the participants came away with a positive experience. She remarks, “Courage, confidence and character serve me well in my every-day life, and even more in times of challenge.”
Molly Kentala Broman
Editor; Lake Minnetonka Magazine
Serving as a positive role model for youth is a lifelong passion for Girl Scout Molly Kentala Broman. A native of Burnsville, MN, Broman earned her Silver Award as a girl member and has continued her Girl Scout affiliation as a troop leader, service unit delegate and council volunteer. Broman is also a member of the Junior League of Minneapolis and serves as a fundraising leader. She was honored as the League’s New Member of the Year in 2010.
Professionally, Broman pursued a career in print journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota.
In her two-plus decades of Girl Scouting, Molly Broman’s most courageous moment occurred the summer after high school. Wanting to learn about adult Girl Scouting, she and a friend attended a local leader meeting. There, a mother stood up and shared she was unable to continue leading her daughter’s troop of first graders. Moments later, Broman and her friend had their hands in the air, unsure of what the commitment meant but knowing it would be one heck of a ride.
Eleven years later, Broman continues to lead Troop 12040, providing leadership and support to “her girls” through death, foreclosure, military deployment, divorce and much more.
As a troop leader, she’s seen how helpful it has been for the girls to have a caring adult outside of their families and she has gladly stepped into that role. Broman hopes that some of her troop members will also choose to mentor girls in the future.
Melisa López Franzen, J.D.
Employee Relations Consultant; Target Corporation
Melisa López Franzen was a Girl Scout for 12 years in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where she earned her Silver Award and credits this experience as an important factor in her personal development. Locally, Franzen has continued her Girl Scout involvement as a speaker and facilitator for girl programs, was elected to River Valleys’ Board of Directors in 2011 and recently became chair of the council’s Inclusion Committee.
She has also volunteered with numerous community nonprofits such as Neighborhood House and Centro Campesino. In law school, Franzen interned with Centro Legal, where she worked on a voter participation program to empower Latinos in the election process. She also served as the national representative to the American Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, for the Hispanic National Bar Association. She is past president of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association.
Franzen is a “rising star” in the corporate world, currently employed as an employee relations consultant responsible for Human Resources Government Affairs at Target. Franzen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, a Master of Public Policy from Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and a Juris Doctor degree from Hamline University School of Law.
One of Melissa Franzen’s most fulfilling endeavors was establishing the Latino Law Student Endowment Fund at her alma mater, Hamline University School of Law. As a result of her Girl Scout training, Franzen identified a clear need and took action to address it. She hopes the fund will one day be able to provide full scholarships to incoming students.
Donnell Hansen, D.V.M., D.A.V.D.C.
Veterinary Dentist and Oral Surgeon; Minnesota BluePearl Veterinary Medicine
Donnell Hansen recognized her calling to care for animals early in life, and from a very young age took steps toward her goal of becoming a veterinarian. By age 12, she was a Junior Docent for the Como Zoo, exhibiting animals and artifacts on her Zoo Cart to young children. As a high school student, she taught Zoo School and was the White Tiger at the Como Zoo’s “Zoo Boo.” She graduated with honors from Luther College, where she majored in Biology, went on to study at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, and later pursued advanced training to become one of approximately 100 certified oral and dental surgeons for animals in the U.S. today.
Hansen is currently employed by BluePearl Veterinary Partners of Minnesota in her specialty, where her work includes acting as interim hospital administrator for two successful hospitals as well as marketing and community outreach coordinator.
In addition to working as a Girl Scout volunteer, inviting troops to tour her animal hospital, Hansen donates her time and dental services to help animals at the Minnesota Zoo. For her efforts, while in veterinary school, Hansen has been honored with the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association Leadership Award, the Minnesota Veterinary Medicine Association Leadership Award and the Nestle-Purina Leadership Award.
Donnell Hansen believes the Girl Scout values are best utilized as a foundation to a way of life. She endeavors to draw on these values — especially kindness and respect — in all her interactions, whether guiding clients, educating students and peers, interacting with co-workers, helping friends or loving her family.
President and Co-Founder, Ever After Gowns; Leadership Instructor, University of Minnesota
Maggie Harris and her friends saw a need in the community and never looked back. Together, they formed Ever After Gowns, the first nonprofit dedicated to supporting thousands of Twin Cities-area young women by providing them with new and gently used formal gowns, shoes and accessories to be worn to their high school prom. The “Ever After Experience” aims to provide a warm, friendly environment, complete with personal shoppers, make-up experts, professional stylists, and discount flower and tuxedo coupons. They want any high school girl — regardless of race, creed, color, ability or ethnic heritage — to be able to attend a school dance.
In addition to her work with Ever After Gowns, Harris is also a leadership instructor at the University of Minnesota. She serves on the Board of Directors for Ever After Gowns and Art History Alive, and is College District President of Kappa Alpha Theta. She is a member of the Saint Paul Jaycees and the International Leadership Association, and volunteers with the University of Wisconsin–River Falls Service Learning program, National PanHellenic Conference, and University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital . Harris earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Sociology from Butler University and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Bethel University.
Maggie Harris joined Girl Scouts while growing up in Hong Kong, China. She believes the experiences she had as a global citizen gave her the tenacity to form strong friendships, stand up for herself, pursue excellence and appreciate simple happiness. Today, she is an involved parent of a River Valleys’ Girl Scout and has worked with her troop on their Gold Award project.
Chief Executive Officer and Founder; Kids For A Better World, Inc.
From a Girl Scout Daisy to CEO and founder of her own nonprofit organization at age 14, Ashlee Kephart (now a college junior) exemplifies the Girl Scout commitment to making the world a better place. Kephart earned local and national awards for her volunteer efforts, including the Eleven Who Care Award, National Caring Award, Congressional Gold Medal and the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Also the recipient of the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, Kephart has been a role model for her peers, many of whom have participated and recreated her programs across the country.
While in high school, Kephart served as a board member for the legacy Greater Minneapolis Council, and volunteered as a speaker for various council events. She was also one of the council’s top cookie sellers, with more than 2,000 boxes annually for four years in a row, which resulted in a featured article in Women’s Business Minnesota magazine. Kephart is currently a Psychology major at Hamline University, where she is the recipient of the Robbins Scouting Scholarship.
When she was 11 years old, Ashlee Kephart was denied an opportunity to play her violin at a local Ronald McDonald House as she was “too young” to volunteer. Because she couldn’t be there in person, Kephart collected music-related items and developed a program, “Music From The Heart,” which became the basis for her Girl Scout Bronze Award project. From this experience, Kephart was inspired to create other programs for children and founded Kids For A Better World, Inc.
Interim Executive Director; Hmong Arts Connection
May Lee-Yang has been the co-leader of a troop of Hmong Girl Scouts since 2009. Through Girl Scouts, she has been able to expose the girls to many new activities and helped them build strong relationships that extend beyond the troop. She has also engaged family members to support the troop’s activities as volunteers and resource providers.
Lee-Yang is a playwright, poet, prose writer and performance artist living in St. Paul. She is passionate about the arts and community work, and in recent years, has combined both through writing, exploring and nurturing the stories of Hmong women and girls. Prior to working as a full-time artist, Lee-Yang worked for Hmong and mainstream youth organizations teaching arts, sexual health and leadership. In addition to Girl Scouts, her volunteer activities have included serving as a board member and founder of V.I.S.I.O.N. (Validating and Inspiring Successful Initiatives for Outreach and Network), youth writing mentor at The Loft Literary Center and Headwaters Foundation for Justice. Lee-Yang received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Minnesota.
Throughout her life, Girl Scout May Lee-Yang has fought against cultural expectations that limit Hmong women to certain types of behavior and forms of expression. She is committed to creating a space for Hmong women and girls to talk about issues like gender inequity and early marriage that restrict their options. Lee-Yang hopes that her work will empower other women to share their stories and begin living life on their own terms.
Jasmine Brett Stringer
Operations Specialist; General Mills
Since arriving in Minneapolis in 2006, Jasmine Brett Stringer has used her skills and talents to serve the community in a variety of ways. Beginning at her church (Camphor Memorial United Methodist), Stringer has served as a mentor to the teens of her congregation — teaching life skills classes that help prepare them for challenges and situations as they go out into the world. She has also served as volunteer cookie manager for Camphor’s Girl Scout troop where she helped girls learn basic marketing and sales strategies as well as determine how they wanted to use their cookie proceeds.
Additionally, Stringer is a member of the Junior League of Minneapolis. In three short years, she has risen from a Provisional member to committee chair of one of the League’s most important fundraising events. In this role, Stringer has leveraged her sales expertise, marketing knowledge and personal connections to help the organization secure the resources it needs to fund projects that improve the lives of children and families in Minneapolis. Stringer’s other volunteer activities include AfterSchool Classes, Jeremiah Project, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and Givens Foundation for African-American Literature. She attended American University, from which she received a Bachelor of Science degree in International Marketing.
Girl Scout Jasmine Brett Stringer’s personal mantra is “carpe diem,” Latin for “seize the day.” She is passionate about improving the quality of life for disenfranchised youth and families, and exposing young people to positive opportunities and experiences in an effort to expand their horizons and plant seeds of big dreams.
Director; Global Citizens Network
Linda Stuart is a woman of action who, at the age of 16, chose an alternative spring break to Dominica to study the impact of mass tourism. At 19, she spent time in Nicaragua as an international observer of the presidential elections there, and she also led her first volunteer team into Guatemala. At 22, Stuart joined Global Citizens Network as a volunteer and is currently responsible for ensuring the organization’s success in its strategic alliance with Intercultural Student Experiences. She is also the board secretary of the International Volunteer Program Association, a member of the downtown Rotary Club #9 in Minneapolis and a family program volunteer at St. Joan of Arc Church.
Stuart’s passion for girls to grow into strong, independent and educated women has also led her to be an active Girl Scout volunteer. She has served as a troop leader, service unit team member and manager, and council delegate. Stuart holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Augsburg College, a Master of Arts in International Studies from the Universidad de Chile and a Certificate for Executive Director Leadership from the University of St. Thomas. She is raising her family both biculturally and bilingually.
Linda Stuart has followed a transformative path to becoming a global citizen that required courage and humility. She had to get in touch with her assumptions, recognize her own culture, listen deeply, speak up and give voice to marginalized peoples, admit what she doesn’t know, apologize in advance for any way she may offend, and hold compassion for our differences. In leading girls, Stuart tries to set this example and give others permission and encouragement to do the same.
Professional Athlete; Minnesota Lynx
You didn’t have to be a sports fan in 2003 to recognize Lindsay Whalen’s name. This Girl Scout-turned-point guard led the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers to three NCAA tournaments, capped by a spot in the Final Four in 2004.
Whalen’s achievement and honors include being the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,285 points, the first player to earn team MVP all four years, and having her number retired when she graduated. While at Minnesota, Whalen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management.
After successfully beginning her professional career with the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, Whalen was traded to the Minnesota Lynx where she reached a career milestone by winning a national championship in 2011. Her coaches agree that she continues to improve her game, never coasting on the skills that first brought her to fame. When not working, Whalen devotes time and energy to promoting causes supported by the WNBA, including Community Fit, a program that teaches elementary school children the benefits of an active lifestyle and nutritious diet.
During her first off-season in the WNBA, Lindsay Whalen played for a Russian basketball club. She had never before traveled alone outside the United States, did not know the language and faced the challenge of establishing herself as a leader when she was the youngest player on the team. Whalen feels that having courage and confidence helped her overcome these obstacles and have a good season. She also displayed a Girl Scout’s respect for other cultures, which enabled her to develop some great friendships.